While COVID-19 has put the actual celebration on hold, Croissants Bistro & Bakery, now with two locations, reached its 25-year-old milestone in March.
The first Myrtle Beach location is at 3751 Robert Grissom Parkway, which owner Heidi Vukov calls “the 38th Avenue location.”
Croissants at Heidi’s Corner at 8014 N. Kings Highway, which includes Hook & Barrel, opened in 2017.
Because of the pandemic, seating under huge, protective umbrellas is now available outside at the 38th Avenue location’s porch, and social distancing seating inside is at about 40% capacity.
Guests are welcome to order their food at the counter, which eliminates one contact with the server, and there is full service – or counter service if you prefer – at Heidi’s Corner.
Take-out and curbside pick-up are also available.
The 38th Avenue location is open from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Monday – Saturday and from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Sunday.
Also opening at 8 a.m., Heidi’s Corner is open until 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The restaurant is open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and until 2 p.m. on Sunday.
The phone number is 843-448-2253. The website, with complete menus, is www.croissants.net.
Because guests enjoy outdoor seating at Croissants at Heidi’s Corner in nice weather, awnings to keep the hot sun at bay have been added to the wraparound porch.
Decorative draperies are also new at that location, making it what Vukov called “a little cozier.”
Every health precaution is taken at each location. Not just cleaning, but sanitizing and disinfecting every table, chair and surface near the seating area is done after each guest.
Between March 18 when Croissants closed because of COVID and when it re-opened in mid-May, “every nook and cranny” was repainted and every inch of the restaurant was meticulously cleaned.
Croissants serves breakfast, lunch, brunch, pastries and desserts and specializes in wedding cakes, special event cakes and catering.
Whether you’re stopping in for a smoothie or a full breakfast, you won’t leave Croissants hungry.
For example, there’s the tomato, spinach & swiss omelette, served with your choice of side. Crab cake benedict, shrimp & grits, the yogurt crunch bowl or the hot-out-the-oven cinnamon bun minis will satisfy every time. Breakfast pastries include a chocolate or almond croissant, an apple or blueberry turnover or a cheese Danish, all of which are less than $3.
But the food isn’t the only thing that makes a visit to Croissants an experience.
Vukov’s attention to detail, and her passion for customer service makes each visit memorable.
It’s a family-operated business, and that gives the eateries their personal touch.Daughter Alex Gray is the director of communications and son Ben Vukov is the general manager.
Vukov and her husband Gary, a local physician, have four children. Matthew Eline and Bryan Vukov both live in the area but are not in the restaurant business.
New chef Jordan Aldrich, who brought what he called his “Southern French with a little Italian” style, is part of what Vukov called her great team.
A benefit of COVID, she said, is that her staff has looked out for each other even more than before the pandemic.
“If you have a good team and everyone is working together towards the same goal, it’s an easier road to get there,” she said.
Vukov gleaned her kitchen skills from both grandmothers, which explains her vast repertoire of knowledge.
As a child, she spent summers with her German grandmother on the French boarder, learning European methods that are now second nature.
Her maternal grandmother, who lived through the Depression, “knew how to make something from nothing.”
Vukov was named the 2011 South Carolina Restauranteur of the Year by the South Carolina Hospitality Association, and was honored as one of four women chosen by Gov. Henry McMaster as a 2018 South Carolina Chef Ambassador.
Her success, she said, and the advice she’d give to a young entrepreneur starting out is all about putting their whole heart into the business.
“You have to have a passion for it and you have to want to be there every day,” she said. “If you’re planning to go out on the boat on Sunday, and someone has an emergency, you fill in wherever you’re needed.”
She started out as a single mom, letting her children finish sleeping at the first Croissants location when she got there in the dark pre-dawn hours.
“I feel very honored that our community has supported me all these years,” Vukov said, adding that over the years, she’s learned to “let go” a little bit.
“When it’s your business, you don’t think anyone can do things like you would. But,” she said, smiling, “I’ve let go a little and let people do their jobs.”